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Photographer's Note

From the end of the XVIIth century, the Jurats of Bordeaux decided to improve upon the Eastern facade of the city that overlooked the river in order to give arriving travellers a good impression of the city. With the city wall, all that could be seen were the stone boutiques and wooden buildings.

This project did not become reality until around 1765 thanks to the tenacious determination of the Intendants Boucher and Tourny, but also thanks to genius of the architect Jacques Gabriel and his son Jacques-Ange Gabriel.

Sent by Louis XV, Jacques Gabriel, the King's architect, arrived in Bordeaux on 19th May 1729. He was delighted by the beauty and the curb of the river, the climate, the lifestyle and the commercial activity; Claude Boucher wrote to the Minister: "Monsieur Gabriel has an enormous project...if he can carry it out, it will certainly be the finest piece in Europe."

And so the incredible project was started. The Place Royale was inaugurated in triumph in 1755 with its two wings bordering the quays: the general farm and the Commercial exchange. It is a classical example of French architecture, with the ground floor with high arches that conceal the mezzanine. Then two more floors, and attic, entablature and slate tiled roof.

The architecture of the Place Royale determined the style of the rest of the quays, and thus, over more than a kilometre, one can observe the rigorous respect of the height of the arches, floors, and slated roofs with the very slim stone chimney stacks rising above them all. The present owners of these buildings have started the cleaning and renovation of the stone facades to restore the quays to their former glory, and the stone back to its original colour that so beautifully reflects the morning sunlight.

The architects that designed the houses along the quays are: Bonfin, Chevay, Moulinié, Richefort, Alary. The owners of the land that built these 80 or so fine buildings were often the Bordeaux wine merchants. The inhabitants of the houses generally rented them from the landlords, port workers or shop holders, their charming portraits can be seen sculpted in the stone of the buildings.

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The POV is directly in the centre of the Place but back across over the Miroir d'eau.

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Additional Photos by Mike Foster (teacozie) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 242 W: 28 N: 136] (1377)
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